With Universal Analytics (UA) officially retiring in less than a year on July 1, 2023, we thought there was no better time to get you up to speed with GA4.
Do I really need to upgrade to GA4?
Yes! Whilst it may be tempting to stay with the system you are familiar with, not only is UA no longer going to be supported from 2023, it will actively stop working. So if you want to continue tracking your website’s data, you’ll need to update to GA4.
Why is my data different from UA? Does that mean it’s not tracking correctly?
Not necessarily! GA4 and UA track traffic on your site in fundamentally different ways so the data will almost always be a little bit different. UA is built on a “sessions” system whilst GA4 is built on an “events” system, and even where the metrics have the same name, they are often calculated differently.
For example in UA a new session is started for every active user at midnight, in GA4 it isn’t. One of the biggest differences is in how conversions are calculated. UA reports converting sessions per goal, GA4 reports on conversion events. For example if a user triggers the same goal three times that will be 1 conversion in UA, 1 session converted on 1 goal, but in GA4 it would be 3 conversions, as there were 3 conversion events recorded.
Can I merge my existing UA account with a new GA4 account?
Unfortunately not, because they track data in a fundamentally different way they can’t be merged. This means that you’ll have to “start over” with a new GA4 account so it’s really important you get it setup asap and start building up data in there. You can also export your historical data from UA to keep this stored for any future analysis.
Can I use both GA4 and UA side by side?
Yes you can, and they won’t interfere with each other, in fact if you are using the newer UA tracking code on your site both can run from a single tracking code installation.. You may want to consider using both for a while so you still have easy access to your site’s historic data whilst you build up that data in GA4, however, UA data will become inaccessible 6 months after UA is depreciated.
What happened to Bounce Rate. I can’t find it?
Initially, GA4 didn’t include Bounce Rate as a metric and used Engagement Rate instead, however, in July 22 Google reintroduced Bounce Rate into GA4. However, keep in mind that the Bounce Rate in GA4 is calculated differently to that in UA so they are not directly comparable. In UA Bounce Rate was calculated as the % of sessions where the user only viewed 1 page and no events were triggered, this means that sessions where a user read your content for 5 minutes before leaving would still be considered a bounce. In GA4 Bounce Rate is the inverse of Engagement Rate, and engagement rate is the % of sessions that viewed more than 1 page, or triggered a conversion event, or spent more than 10s with a page active (the main tab in an open browser).
The main difference here is that if you spend more than 10s on a page then the session is not a bounce, whereas in UA it would have been.
Can existing Data Studio reports that are linked to UA be updated to GA4?
Technically yes, but you really should look at building new reports. Whilst you could just change the data source from UA to GA4, because of the different data structures you will need to update every data element individually. But because many of the dimensions have changed, and even ones that haven’t the way the metrics are calculated have, you should strongly consider building a new report.
How do I create a reporting view in GA4?
Unfortunately you can’t – GA4 does not support multiple views per property. Whilst GA4 does allow you to filter your data similar to UA, the filter is applied at the property level, not the view level. If you want to create reports only looking at sub-sections of data these can be created in the Explore section of your account which allows you to build and save custom reports.
How quickly does GA4 populate data?
Google batch sends data to GA4 so it isn’t 100% live, however the real time reports and the debug report are usually only 30s or so behind live. The reports will take longer to populate and you should allow 24 hours for these.
Is GA4 GDPR compliant?
GA4 has been built with GDPR already in place so it works much better with the legislation. GDPR is heavily focused on data collection, whilst GA4 offers several tools for managing the data once it is collected, it is still your responsibility as the website owner to manage user consent in a GDPR compliant manner.
Where do I find a landing pages report in GA4?
GA4 no longer includes a landing page field, this dimension no longer exists. You can achieve the same results though by looking at the number of “session_start” events by page, you can view this by travelling to the pages and screens report and filtering on the “session_start” event.
Didn’t Find The Answer You Were Looking For?
If you can’t find your burning question in this blog post, feel free to call us on 0800 088 6000 or book a free 15-minute consultation to discuss how we can support your GA4 migration.
Jasmine has been a member of Absolute Digital Media’s team for almost five years now, having started her journey at the agency as a Digital Copywriter and progressing onto become read more.